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DLC and Its Impact on Consumers

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Remember that great feeling when, after hours and hours worth of trial and error, you finally unlocked your favorite character’s costume in Street Fighter? Unfortunately, for the most part, that feeling is non-existent in the modern era of gaming thanks to DLC. That dreaded acronym has become a double-edged sword in the gaming industry. While it can certainly be a great thing when handled well, it can and has been abused with practices like paying for XP boosts, special gear and even full game modes. Comments like “He unlocked _____’s final costume?! He must be great at this game!” are now replaced with “He bought _____’s final costume? What a loser.”

The catalyst for this feature began with the release of Monolith’s Gotham City Imposters. They recently went overboard with paid DLC and were charging high prices for single pieces of equipment. While they recently clarified that all of this gear is obtainable in-game, it does raise concerns for the future. Just how far are companies willing to go to make a quick buck off of their fanbase?

Where did this all begin? Let me tell you about a certain game—The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. After the game came out, Bethesda decided to release DLC that consisted of special armor for your horse. It was sold for 200 MSP/$2.50 and $2 for the PC version. Whatever Bethesda’s original intentions with this, this platform for DLC began to spread to other developers. Soon, it became common practice to charge high prices for map packs, a model that the Call of Duty series started with Modern Warfare 2. These map packs were just the tip of the iceberg.

Capcom is another company guilty of nickel and diming DLC. The majority of their recent releases require DLC in order to unlock costumes, colors and even new characters. In Street Fighter IV, you had to pay to get extra costumes, as none of them were unlockable for in-game achievements. One should also note Resident Evil 5, as they not only charged for certain costumes, but also for the competitive multiplayer mode. They went on to defend this practice by saying that the mode took extra development time. Even their upcoming game, Street Fighter X Tekken, features a long list of day one DLC. Speaking of selling power-ups, do you enjoy using cheat codes like God Mode to have a little fun? Well, you better have $5 ready as even these are being sold as DLC nowadays.

Even single player games are beginning to offer similar kinds of DLC. Namco Bandai’s Tales of Vesperia is a prime example of this. Not only did that game allow you to buy items that were already available in the game, but they even had perks like bonus gold and automatic level-ups available for purchase.

At the same time, DLC can add longevity to games that are racking up dust on your shelf. Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV, among others, all featured DLC that added new storylines to the game. In fact, GTA IV’s DLC packs were separate from the main game; they featured new stories and characters altogether and were practically full games. Lair of the Shadow Broker, one of Mass Effect 2’s add-ons, allowed you to continue your relationship with Liara if you romanced her in the original. Properly implemented DLC can expand your game’s story without corrupting your fanbase.

As consumers in a tough economy, it’s already hard enough for some people to purchase the base game itself, let alone any extra DLC. While it’s understandable that companies need to make money, nickel and diming isn’t the way to go. In fact, the recent practice of creating Game of the Year Editions are a fine way for companies to give consumers DLC at reasonable prices. These editions of the game usually cost around $40 and can save you a good $40-$50 on buying the DLC.

Now that you’ve had the chance to hear me bitch about the horrors of DLC while simultaneously praising them, what are the general opinions of everyone out there? Let us know in the comments!

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